Albion paid a Christmas visit to nearby Acorns Hospice to add the Club’s weight to the fundraising drive launched to save the service.
Darnell Furlong, Kieran Gibbs, Kyle Bartley and Romaine Sawyers took a break from training to bring some festive cheer to families, staff and volunteers and show their support for an urgent appeal to safeguard the future of the Walsall-based hospice.
The teammates joined surprise guest Father Christmas to hand out presents to children and siblings before being taken on a tour of the hospice’s specialist facilities.
Albion are providing a range of fund-raising opportunities for the hospice, which is situated just a short drive from the Club’s training ground, as well as a benefit sporting dinner in 2020 with all proceeds going to the charity.
The Baggies are also providing ‘respite’ tickets for families and staff to attend games and enjoy matchdays at The Hawthorns.
Full-back Darnell Furlong was mightily impressed with the facility and admits it is worrying that the local community may no longer benefit from having it on their doorstep.
“You’re blind to it a lot of the time,” he said. “You come somewhere like this and things that you worried about outside you forget about and realise how lucky you are.
“This place blows you away really. You see the equipment, the place goes on forever - it’s massive. They cater for so much and you can really see how this is some people’s home.
“It’s really scary to think that somewhere like this was potentially going to be closed. I’m glad that they’ve got a bit of backing, even though there’s still a bit to do. It’s been really humbling.”
After attending yesterday’s visit with the Albion stars, Toby Porter, Acorns Chief Executive, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to welcome the Baggies to our Black Country hospice. The children and families using the hospice thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them and it was very clear from the smiles on the players’ faces that they enjoyed it too.
“Visits like this create unforgettable memories for the children and families we support and this will be one to remember.
“We’re extremely grateful to Albion for joining our Black Country Appeal. After hitting the £500,000 mark earlier this month our sights are now firmly set on reaching the next fundraising milestone in our £2million Appeal. So, having yet another big-name club on board is fantastic in helping us raise even greater awareness of our campaign.”
Albion CEO Mark Jenkins said: “Having spent time at the hospice, I know just what an invaluable service it is to our community and we do not want to lose it.
“While our charitable work is focused largely on The Albion Foundation, this is a campaign we felt compelled to join.”
The Save Acorns Black Country Hospice Appeal was launched by Acorns in July as the proposed closure of its Walsall hospice was put on hold following pledges of additional NHS support.
The urgent call for donations has seen the local community mobilise into action, with numerous individuals, celebrities, businesses and sports teams all stepping-up to support the charity.
To support the Save Acorns Black Country Hospice Appeal, visit www.acorns.org.uk/appeal.